Posted by|24 November 2014
Aromatic herbs and spices like sweet cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and vanilla define our culinary palate this time of year, and that goes for cocktails too. Thankfully, you don’t need to stock the cabinet with a fortune’s worth of pretty liquor bottles to enjoy these delights.
Infusing your own spirits at home and making flavored syrups are easy ways to build ingredients for your home bar. It’s fun to have a few specialty drinks on hand that will wow your guests when hosting parties. After all, tis the season for cups filled with cheer, making memories, and merriment!
Here are 5 of my favorite herbal sipping treats for winter celebrations…
Rose & Cardamom Eggnog
Beat farm fresh eggs in a blender or food processor for one minute on low speed. Slowly spoon in the sugar and continue blending for one minute to combine. With blender still running, add cardamom, brandy, rum, milk, and cream. Blend the ingredients together for one minute. Chill thoroughly to allow the flavors to meld. Stir in the rosewater and serve in two chilled glasses, grating nutmeg on top before serving.
Orange Spice Manhattan
- 2 oz orange spice infused bourbon*
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a glass with ice and pour in the infused bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Stir to combine and then strain the cocktail into a chilled glass. Garnish with a candied orange peel. Serves one.
* To make the Orange Spice Bourbon, combine 8oz of bourbon with the outer peel of one orange, one organic cinnamon stick, one chopped organic vanilla bean, and two organic cloves in a glass jar. Allow to infuse for 2 weeks and then strain.
Elderberry Champagne Cocktail
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz elderberry syrup
- Lemon peel garnish
To make the syrup, combine the berries and herbs with cold water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow herbs to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from heat and mash the berries in the liquid mixture. Strain the berries and herbs through cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice. Measure the liquid and add an equal amount of honey. Gently heat the honey and juice for a few minutes until well combined. Do not boil! Bottle in sterilized glass.
Pour gin and elderberry syrup into a flute glass. Top with chilled champagne and garnish with a lemon peel.
Spiked Vanilla Bean Cocoa
Gently simmer milk and half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat until just warm. Do not boil! Whisk in the cacao powder, add the syrup, and stir. Divide between two mugs and add 1 ½ oz of infused brandy to each. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.
Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream
Add all ingredients to a quart sized mason jar and tightly screw on the lid. Shake the jar for several minutes until the liquid stops sloshing. Open periodically to check for a fluffy consistency. Be careful not to over shake, or you’ll have vanilla butter instead!
Chai Snow Punch
Combine the milk, half-and-half, loose chai tea, and cinnamon in a pan and bring the temperature up to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat. Stir constantly. Cover with a lid and remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature before straining out the herbs. Whisk together the chai infused milk, booze, sugar, and vanilla. Pour into a covered glass bowl and freeze for 12 to 24 hours, stirring several times to break up large ice crystals. Stir well before serving to make the appearance of snow. Spoon into chilled glasses with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Serves 6 to 8.
Posted by|23 November 2014
It’s coming! In fact, for many of us, it’s already here.
This week marks the start of some busy, invigorating, stressful, and downright overwhelming days as we plunge headlong into the holiday season. It’s going to take some focus to make sure we take care of ourselves, get plenty of rest and give our bodies the nutrition and support we need to carry us through the coming weeks. For me, oatstraw, red clover, and lavender are musts for a nourishing, calming cup of herbal tea! I call this recipe my “Do All The Things” tea blend; it even has a boost of Lemon Balm extract or tincture for a little extra concentrated feel good!
Do All The Things Tea Blend
1 teaspoon organic Oatstraw
1/2 teaspoon organic Lavender flowers
1 teaspoon organic Bilberries
1 teaspoon organic Red Clover herb
1 dropperful organic Lemon Balm extract
Combine the herbs in a tea infuser, nest, or bag and pour 1 1/2 to 2 cups of boiling water over. Allow to steep for 3-5 minutes. Squeeze in the dropperful of Lemon Balm extract and taste. I find this to be rather sweet, but you may want to add a little honey to taste.
Sit back, put your feet up, and glance over your “to do” list one more time!
Posted by|21 November 2014
Creating thoughtful, hand-crafted holiday gifts doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. I don’t think of myself as a very craftsy person, but I do challenge myself to give those closest to me at least one handmade gift every year. Some years, everyone gets the same thing, while other times, I have the energy to make more personalized gifts for those on my list. These seasonally inspired gifts are easy to put together, not the slightest bit fussy, and perfectly-suited for the range of folks you have in your life. And the best thing? None of them have to be made far in advance, so you can spend one afternoon crafting these delightful and useful gifts and then put your feet up and enjoy a nice, hot cup of tea…
Body & Bath Treats
Spearmint & Eucalyptus Lip Balm
1 Tablespoon organic Cocoa Butter or 4 Cocoa Butter Wafers
2 Tablespoons Shea Nut oil or Sweet Almond oil
1 Tablespoon organic Baobab oil
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon beeswax pastilles
Vitamin E oil
10-15 drops organic Spearmint essential oil
10-15 drops organic Eucalyptus essential oil
Have lip balm tubes, jars, or tins ready as this process will move quickly. Melt cocoa butter, shea nut oil, Baobab oil and beeswax in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until combined. Remove from heat and quickly stir in a few drops of Vitamin E oil and essential oils. Pour into tubes, jars, or tins and allow to solidify prior to use.
Midwinter Body Wash
This body wash has a cool, crisp scent that isn’t too overpowering. Not to mention, it is full of ingredients that are actually good for your skin during the drying winter months!
8 ounces or 1 fluid cup Castille Soap
½ fluid cup of organic Lavender Hydrosol
½ fluid cup of organic Rosemary Hydrosol
1 Tablespoon organic Jojoba oil
1 Tablespoon Aloe Vera Gel
10 drops organic Douglas Fir essential oil
5 drops organic Lavender essential oil
5 drops organic Nutmeg essential oil
Combine all ingredients in a jar or bottle with a snug cap, close, and shake well. Our flip top plastic bottles or plastic bottles with the lotion pump work well and won’t shatter in a slippery shower! To use: shake to mix ingredients and then squirt onto a an ayate washcloth, loofah, or other washing implement. Lather and rinse.
Winter Spice Bath or Massage Oil
This amazing oil feels so good on the skin! It absorbs well without feeling greasy and the combination of scents is festive and invigorating.
Pour oils into an 8 ounce bottle (our flip top plastic bottles work well for this). Add essential oils and carefully add 2 drops of Vanilla Absolute. Vanilla Absolute is rather thick, almost like honey or molasses, so it doesn’t take very much. Shake well to combine. Drizzle a little of this oil in a warm bath or use as a massage oil.
Warm Milk & Cookies Bath Salts
This bath salt mixture looks as lovely as it smells and makes for a silky-scented bathing experience. Great for a foot soak too! The recipe mixes up in just minutes and is easy to multiply if you want to make a bunch to give as several gifts.
1 cup Epsom salts
½ cup Dead Sea salt
½ cup dry nonfat milk powder
1 Tablespoon organic Orange peel, dried
1 Tablespoon organic Ginger Root, dried
1 Tablespoon organic Sweet Cinnamon chips
5 drops organic Sweet Orange essential oil
5 drops organic Ginger essential oil
Combine the salts, milk powder, and dried herbs in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Add essential oils and stir well to combine. Store in a jar or bottle with a cap. Add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of mixture to a cotton muslin drawstring bag, hang bag over faucet, and run warm water through for a soothing bath. You can also toss the bag into the water while you soak.
In the Kitchen
Italian-inspired Infused Oil
For the pizza and pasta lover in all of us – but you don’t even have to be a cook! This infused oil is perfect for dipping a little crusty bread or using for a simple sauce over cooked pasta. Since this is made with Pumpkin Seed oil, it is best not cooked. Use in raw dishes or over already cooked food. Makes a wonderful drizzle for veggies or a salad dressing. Store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge. If you are giving as a gift, consider adding to a gift basket with a fresh loaf of bread and some homemade marinara sauce…
16 ounces organic Pumpkin Seed oil
1 Tablespoon organic Fennel seed
1 Tablespoon organic Oregano leaf
1 teaspoon organic Marjoram
1 teaspoon organic Rosemary leaf
½ teaspoon organic Thyme
½ teaspoon organic Garlic granules
½ teaspoon organic Chili Pepper Flakes or 1 large whole Chili pepper
1 large Bay Leaf
1/3 teaspoon Onion, minced
½ teaspoon organic Sea Salt, Pink Himalayan or Red Alea salt
Put all the herbs into a glass jar or bottle, such as our medium or large cork top bottles. Carefully pour Pumpkin Seed oil over and shake well to combine. Let age in a cool, dark place for 1-2 weeks before using. You can also keep this in the fridge while it ages.
Solstice Spice Tea Blend
The recipe for this tea blend was inspired by the sights, sounds, and realities of the winter season. Our immune systems need a boost, the cold winds call for something warming, and the stresses of hectic schedules sing out for some calming herbs…
1/2 cup organic Blackberry leaf
about 1/4 cup Cedar Leaf tips
1/4 cup organic Cinnamon Chips
1/2 cup organic Damiana Leaf
1/4 cup organic Hawthorn Berries
1/2 cup organic Linden Leaf & Flower
1/4 cup organic Rosehips
Combine all the herbs in a bowl and mix well. I like to crumble up the Cedar Leaf tips so they are smaller and incorporate into the rest of the blend. This recipe makes about 2 cups of the blend. Tuck into a tin or jar, or scoop into one of our lined tea bags for a thoughtful gift!
For more wonderful DIY holiday gift ideas:
Posted by|16 November 2014
I recently reorganized our “tea and herb station” at home for the upcoming season. This is the time of year when we are drinking hot tea just about every day and it was time to refill jars, freshen the stores, and get things reorganized to make creating tea blends easier and more fun. Organizing excites me, but I was also reminded of some of the amazing herbs that have been pushed to the side and neglected. It’s sort of like the seasonal organizing of my closet–things get moved to the front that I forgot about and it’s like discovering them all over again! Plus, I just love seeing all those gorgeous herbs lined up in labeled jars!
This was one of the first teas I created from the newly tidy shelves (three full shelves of jarred and labeled herbs, mind you) and it was so sweet and delicious!
Sweet Oat Tea
1 teaspoon organic Elder Flowers
1 teaspoon organic Orange Peel
1 Tablespoon organic Oatstraw
Combine all ingredients in an infuser, nest, strainer or tea bag. Pour 1 1/2 to 2 cups boiling water over and allow to steep for 3-5 minutes. This is a naturally sweet tea and doesn’t really need any honey, but feel free to add if you’d like. A little wedge of lemon is nice too!
Posted by|15 November 2014
It took four flights and almost 3,000 miles, but the adventure was well worth it when I walked up the path beneath a canopy of fall-colored trees in Black Mountain, North Carolina for the 10th annual Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference. I was eager to get checked in, pick up my updated program booklet, and plot my classes for the next few days—not to mention, get a lay of the land and find all the booths, vendors, and activities!
This was our first venture to this growing conference, so we’ve been super excited to experience it! As a sponsor, Mountain Rose has been looking forward to sharing in this wonderfully diverse community of women herbalists on the East Coast. I was determined to try to cover as much ground as possible during the gathering, by attending classes and activities, sampling the freshly-prepared meals, visiting the vendor booths, and chatting with folks at our own Mountain Rose Herbs table (we brought along tinctures to try, and samples of our organic lavender, hops and Peace Tea blend!) While I couldn’t possibly be in all the places I wanted to all the time, I certainly tried to pack it in!
The Southeast Wise Women Herbal Conference is held at Camp Rockmont in Black Mountain, North Carolina—just outside of Asheville. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a conference that took the time to provide “Bear Safety!” tips in the welcome information, but I can report that while I saw no bears, I did get to connect with more than 1200 women, along with many girls and young women at the three-day conference. The grounds were constantly awash with their smiling, exuberant energy!
It was hard to choose between all of the amazing classes taking place that weekend, but I made my way to some fantastic ones. I learned so much in Juliet Blankespoor’s “Herbs for the Immune System” class that I’m still studying my notes to absorb all of the information! Between the information, recipes, and herbal knowledge, I came away feeling ready for the coming season!
I thoroughly enjoyed and felt inspired by “Indigenous Wisdom and the Future of Indigenous Ways” presented by Olatokunboh Obasi. I loved how she talked about “being awake to the cycles of energy in the space you are in” as a means for observing how we all fit into this big and evolving universe of ours. The diversity and depth of conversation in that workshop made the time fly by and I couldn’t believe when it was time to move on to the next learning adventure.
With a focus on embracing diversity and making space for women from all backgrounds, ages, and at various stages in their herbal learning, this conference was going strong from the early morning yoga to the late night fire circles and drum parties. There were herb walks all day long offering attendees the chance to learn about edible and medicinal plants, trees, natural first aid, and more. As I prepared to leave on Sunday evening, my brain swimming with new inspired teachings, I was already wondering what next year’s conference might be like! Truly looking forward to the magic that awaits…
Posted by|14 November 2014
These classic texts from the herbal community’s beloved Rosemary Gladstar are hot off the press. This collection of new 2014 editions have a wealth of herbal knowledge and how-to information with updated looks.
Previously sold under the title Herbs for the Home Medicine Chest, this informative guide profiles more than 50 herbs that are safe and effective for treating common ailments and injuries. Discover recipes for salves, teas, tinctures, and more, along with instructions for making an herbal first aid kit.
This new edition was previously titled Herbs for Reducing Stress & Anxiety. Throughout this text, Rosemary Gladstar shows you simple herbal remedies that strengthen and build a healthy nervous system. She profiles 21 herbs proven to be effective at soothing common stress symptoms. Enjoy the herbs in tea decoctions and infusions, take them as capsules or tinctures, and relax in warm baths enhanced by their calming scents.
Formerly known as Herbs for Longevity & Well-Being, this exciting guide outlines the rejuvenating and healing properties of dozens of specific herbs. There are herbs to support heart function, aid your mind and memory, strengthen and soothe your nervous system, activate your metabolism, support your bones and joints, and improve your ability to handle stress. You’ll learn how to choose the right herbs for your needs and how to prepare and use them safely and effectively, improving your vitality and wellbeing, whatever your age!
Visit our website to see all of our favorite books on Herbal Medicine.
Posted by|13 November 2014
The leaves have fallen quickly and autumn has turned into winter for many. As the cold fronts move in across the country, don’t forget to stay cozy with a warm cup of tea!
Here are a few of our favorite teas for sipping on these short and cold days:
You can find the mug and celestial strainer on our website too.
Happy tea drinking!
Posted by|12 November 2014
What an honor! Mountain Rose Herbs recently received a beautiful Salmon-Safe plaque for our work around watershed stewardship. Salmon are key indicators of ecosystem health, so what better way to protect water quality and Mother Earth than by protecting our scaly friends?
Salmon-Safe works across the West Coast to transform land management practices so Pacific salmon can thrive. Dan Kent, with Salmon-Safe Inc., joined us at the Long Tom Watershed Council’s 17th Annual Meeting and Celebration to present the award. We were blown away when he told us that they repurposed a traffic sign and transformed it into this work of art! As a Zero Waste company, we approve!
We are committed to water conservation, riparian habitat restoration, elimination of conventional fertilizer use in landscaping, and improving stormwater treatment systems. In this effort, we have started some exciting enhancement projects. In 2015, we will install a rain garden to filter water runoff from impervious surfaces on our property. We will also plant 20+ native trees to provide shade to the parking area, bioswale, and outdoor employee break area. Should be a fun Mountain Rose River Project! Stay tuned for updates…
Learn more about Salmon-Safe and how you can get involved!
Posted by|10 November 2014
The Mountain Rose Herbs’ procurement team pulled into a long driveway, following the handpainted signs of flowers pointing the way to park. We stepped out into the warm mid-morning air of Southern Oregon, smelling the smoky undertones of nearby wildfires. As our car doors opened, a flock of birds flushed out of a happy feeding frenzy; sparrows, juncos, and other small song birds were only mildly disturbed from the meal of seeds and small red berries. A wonderful herbal garden sat before us laden with their fruits of early fall.
We made our way down the driveway on foot and noticed small crops of plants scattered throughout an open area. Just ahead of us sat a large greenhouse and an outdoor shade cloth shelter harboring an incredible assortment of potted plants. Halfway up the drive, we were warmly greeted by the owner of this plant paradise carrying his sweet granddaughter in his arms.
Richo Cech, along with his family, began Horizon Herbs back in 1985. After finding a passion for cultivating diverse medicinal plant seeds and understanding the increasing need for these seeds, Horizon Herbs was born, and the family began selling the products through their homemade catalogs.
Richo generously gave of his time, offering a small tour of his private herbal gardens where all the magic happens! We gained such appreciation for all the dedication, time, and commitment it takes to grow these plants so that they will bear fruit and the seeds can be saved to pass on to others.
The diversity of his offerings is nothing short of incredible, ranging from common medicinal weeds, like dandelion, to lesser known medicinal plants across the globe. Richo’s perspective on his trade is that “no plants are too common or too rare to benefit from cultivation–they are all medicine.”
Providing medicinal seeds and live plants to the people not only connects folks to their own health, but also with nature. Every seed packet sold has specific instructions about how best to sow the seed, since every plant has different requirements. This connects the person to the cycle of that plant, as well as to the environment in which one lives. This creates happy growing conditions!
Patience and thinking outside the box are very important factors when trying to get certain seeds to grow. A common complaint from people who are trying to grow from seed is that the seeds don’t sprout. There are always a small percentage of seeds that are duds, however, more often than not, the seed is simply missing one small factor that encourages it to begin life. It could be giving it more time, or considering when it should be planted (seasonal), light and soil conditions, or the seed needs a specific action to mimic natural conditions such as storing in a cold, wet place for a certain amount of time. When truly stumped, Richo recommends looking to nature for the answer.
Learning about the life cycle and growing conditions of a certain plant will give you a wealth of information in understanding how that plant reproduces and when. Experimentation is a fun and excellent way to learn what your plant needs – a whole new world may open before your eyes.
As we listen raptly to Richo’s stories and advice, we again notice the bird activity on the property. Richo smiles with the look and knowledge of one who has spent his life in nature and remarks, “The birds rejoice, that’s what it’s all about, we’re all connected.”
Horizon Herbs has just released their Fall/Winter catalog with the great tag line of “Plant it in the Fall!” We tend to think of planting season as being a springtime activity, however, many plants prefer (and it is part of their natural reproductive cycle) to be seeded in the ground this cool time of year. Many shrubs and perennials have an easier time being transplanted in autumn as their energy is naturally transferring to their root system, and this helps lesson the shock and gets them ready to grow come spring!
I always notice the abundance of seeds this time of year and realize that a large majority of our plants will drop their seeds now, and then begin to grow when life starts stirring in the spring. According to Horizon Herbs’ catalog, “…50% of temperate species germinate most reliably when planted using standard technique in a warm greenhouse or spring garden. But the remaining 50% do best sown outdoors or in the cold greenhouse in the fall or very early spring…”
A few examples of these fall sowed plants are Poppies, Shepherds Purse, Angelica, Black Cohosh, Borage, Comfrey, Stinging Nettle, and Passionflower.
You can find these and all the other seeds we offer from Horizon Herbs on our website. Please visit Horizon Herbs directly for an online catalog or to request one of their paper catalogs. For those of you itching to get your hands dirty but not sure where to start with medicinal plant gardening, I highly suggest Richo’s The Medicinal Herb Grower: A Guide for Cultivating Plants that Heal.
Mountain Rose Herbs is honored to support Horizon Herbs in “empowering gardeners to grow roots of sustainability.”
For more visits to the farm see: Sowing Seeds at Horizon Herbs
Posted by|09 November 2014
Elderberry syrup is delicious and oh-so-good-for-us, but what if you haven’t had time to make up a batch? Maybe you’ve just drizzled your last drizzle and are in need of some elderberry boost right now! There’s something a little decadent about this fruit and spice tea, but there’s also a lot of soothing deliciousness. Why not brew some up and snuggle in for a blustery day? (This recipe makes enough to share and can be made ahead and refrigerated too!)
Elderberry Spice Tea
1 Tablespoon dried organic Elderberries
1 teaspoon dried organic Wild Cherry Bark
1/2 teaspoon organic Whole Cloves
1 teaspoon organic dried Echinacea Roots (if needed)
1-2 organic Cinnamon Sticks
Combine all the ingredients in a sauce pan and add 1 quart water. Heat to boil and then turn down and simmer for about 30 minutes. Strain berries and herbs, add honey to taste, and enjoy!
Posted by|07 November 2014
Our Winter Care Extract is now available!
This harmonious blend of organic Echinacea root and organic Goldenseal root is a traditional combination of health supportive herbs and the perfect ally for winter. This blend can be taken when needed to help you feel your best and delight in the joys of the season. Find out more HERE.
Visit our Combination Herbal Extract page to see all of our supportive blends.
Posted by|06 November 2014
We recently spent a delightful fall day exploring stands of mushrooms: fresh, dried, powdered, tea, and even kits! The Mushroom Festival at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum is always something we look forward to, a mark of fall in motion and a winter to come. Hundreds of species on tables with dozens of experts on hand. We sponsored the event again this year serving our delicious Firefly Chai tea infused with Reishi Mushrooms! We also talked about some of the other dried mushrooms we offer: Shittake, Reishi and these beautiful Maitake!
For more mushroom learning: